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Museum a quake risk - report

Last updated 05:00 19/12/2013

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The Southland Museum and Art Gallery has been declared a quake risk.

An engineering report into the strength of the building was carried out in June and released this month.

The report shows the four different parts to the museum all fail to meet the the national building standards requiring buildings to be strengthened to 34 per cent of the code.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said the report was a huge shock and would take the museum's redevelopment back to square one. Invercargill City Council assets manager Paul Horner agreed it had come as a surprise.

The actual percentage of the code was not listed in the report, except for the 1960s history gallery which meets 30 per cent of the national building standards, he said.

But Mr Horner remained upbeat about the museum redevelopment, in the pipeline for seven years.

The oldest building has issues such as a lack of roof diaphragm and pounding with adjacent buildings, the report says.

The 1959 building has inadequate out-of-plane support of a ground floor concrete wall and the 1960s addition also faces a multitude of problems including pounding against other buildings.

The most recent addition to the buildings is also plagued with issues, such as a failure of bolts connecting the pyramid roof diagonals to the parameter concrete columns and lack of bracing at the south side of the mezzanine to the south of the 1940 museum, the report says.

Mr Horner said it could take 12 months for the trust to consider the report and look at its options.

Trust chairman Darren Ludlow did not respond to phone calls yesterday, but released a statement saying the issues were "a little frustrating".

"It is important we reiterate the trust board believes the current building is structurally safe. If it were not, we would not have hesitated in closing it," he said.

Southland District Council chief executive Dave Adamson had looked at the report and predicted the council would be approached for funding to strengthen the museum.

The facility was important to Southland and the council would have to consider its options carefully, he said.

The district council had not previously earmarked funding for the museum redevelopment, he said.

The Community Trust of Southland has already committed $5 million to the museum upgrade and the Invercargill City Council has pledged $3.6m.

However, Mr Horner conceded more funding was likely to be needed to carry out the strengthening and upgrade.

The museum could also face a closure for more than a year for the strengthening to take place, he said.

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There were three main options for the community to consider: Building a new facility on the tennis court and using the current one for storage Finding temporary housing for the museum and demolishing and rebuilding three of the structures and strengthening the remaining one Redeveloping and strengthening all four buildings.

Museum redevelopment committee chairman Neil Boniface said Mr Ludlow, who had not called a meeting of the committee for more than a year, had not sent him the report.

"It should go to all councillors because we have all got a liability, certainly if there's a risk to people, we have got to take that seriously." 

- The Southland Times

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